The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), a key election watchdog, released today an interim report on the pre-election environment ahead of the October 2 local polls, covering the August 3-30 period.
The watchdog said it identified 15 alleged dismissals on political grounds; 13 possible cases of the use of administrative resources; 11 instances of alleged political pressure or threats; 8 instances of participation of incumbent officials in the election campaign; 6 instances of agitation via social media and 4 supposed instances of vote-buying.
ISFED reported a “trend” of ruling Georgian Dream party representatives “restricting” the activities of its observers, who were “mostly not allowed” at the GD’s campaign events and candidate presentations. It also revealed “cases of people employed in educational institutions being coerced directly and/or indirectly by their employers to participate in the GD campaign.”
According to ISFED, instances of possible dismissals and pressure on political grounds were “mostly directed” at people in support of, or sympathetic with, former Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia’s For Georgia party.
The watchdog stated that during the monitoring period, the facade of the opposition Droa party’s office was vandalized in the western Georgian town of Zugdidi.
ISFED noted that the media environment in Georgia “remains polarized.” It cited cases of journalists quitting TV networks after “resisting attempts at changing the editorial policies and interfering with the independence of the channels.”
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